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Innovative Health Care Magazine

82 LEGS FOR STELLA Innovative Health - Spring 2016 WHEN WALKING AND DANCING ARE MIRACLES /// BY HILDEE JOHNSON For three and a half years, little Stella Dibler-DeMare lived on her tummy, unable to walk due to a condition called Nievergelts Mesomelic Dysplasia, a genetic form of dwarfism. But thanks to the courage of her parents and the hard work of prosthetist Jeff Ropp, Stella, now four and a half years old, is running, twirling, dancing, swinging, swimming, chasing bubbles, and learning to golf, play tennis and ride a bike with her twin sister, Ruby. She’s also dreaming of a career in nursing.  “There’s nothing she can’t do,” said Stella’s father Frank Scooter DeMare of Grosse Ile, a college tennis champion and coach who works as a marketing professional. He has relied on Ropp to keep him, and now his family, up and running for more than 30 years.  DeMare himself was just five years old when doctors amputated one of his feet, and Ropp made DeMare’s first prosthetic foot.  “Our company is based on family,” said Ropp, owner of Ropp Prosthetic Clinic of Commerce Township. “Once someone is a patient, we treat them as a patient for life. We do whatever we can to keep them mobile, to help unlock their potential. They’re the reason we’re here.”  Both Stella and Ruby have Nievergelts Mesomelic Dysplasia, as well as cerebral palsy. Ruby was able to walk, but Stella had to crawl because both feet were “pointed like a ballerina,” said Ropp.  “She could not bring them up,” he said. “So, one year ago, both feet were amputated. If they had not been, she would not have been able to walk. She would have been confined to a wheelchair.” Ropp first fitted her with training legs.  “When she first started walking, her knees were crouched,” said Ropp. “She can’t control that. We tried several things and came up with this design to stabilize her knees. She walked really well.” Stella’s legs are crafted of reinforced, high-strength plastic with titanium knee joints and high-strength spectra and nylon.  In April, Stella received her new legs amid much pomp and


Innovative Health Care Magazine
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